This past Sunday, I completed my seventh marathon. A personal best at 3:54. The day was cold in Toronto, with temperatures hovering around zero Celsius at race start, and leveling off around 6 Celsius by the end.
Over 26,000 runners competed in the Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Marathon. There was a full marathon, half marathon, and a five kilometer race.
I started in the front of the blue corral, which is the one where runners plan to finish in about four hours. I took off my extra layers of clothing last minute to conserve as much heat as possible. Luckily, the sun was shining and there was little wind. My hands were cold, however, and I wore my gloves for the first ten kilometers.
At the start I had a wardrobe malfunction! My wireless headphones were not syncing with my phone. Hence, no music. Gasp. I had trained for months with the same four hour run mix. It was jarring running without it. At the 10 kilometer mark, I took a longer walk break and restarted my phone. It worked, and I happily had music for the next couple of hours.
We ran up to Bloor, then down Bathurst to Lakeshore. The west end is my home, so the route is very familiar to me down there. We cycled back at Ellis, then ran downtown. The half marathoners split off at twenty kilometers, and we went south to Eastern and Lakeshore. It is a great feeling at the split; the crowds are much less, and everyone left running is focused for the twenty kilometers ahead.
There was a small loop up Bayview avenue. It wasn’t that fun as I could see all the faster runners returning from the loop on my left side. It was over soon enough, however, and we went east.
Somehow, we ended up on Queen Street in the heart of The Beach. I had run these streets in my training runs, but I was grinding my teeth until we hit the turnaround. The crowds were loud and large. Once we cycled back at near 33 kilometers, we finally would be running towards downtown. Home stretch!
I was aiming for a sub-four marathon, and my Garmin GPS watch was the perfect tool. My goal was to finish each kilometer between 5:30 and 6 minutes. Early on, I was zipping by at 4:30. By kilometer thirty, my heart sunk as I noticed 6:12. I sped up a bit after downing my third gel and focused on the mission.
As anyone who has run a marathon knows, the last few kilometers bring out all kinds of emotions, both good and bad. All the training, early nights on Saturday to run at 5 am Sunday morning, pains and injuries culminate then. At this point in the race on my first marathon over ten years ago, I was in tears with an injured knee. On my seventh marathon, I felt tired and a little cranky, but otherwise, healthy and pumped.
Turning the corner up Bay street, it was a great to see the cheering crowds and the signs marking down my last steps in hundreds of meters (no more kilometer signs). Doug was there with funny signs like “Kris Argentia Rocks @KrisArgentia09” which made me laugh. Kris is the protagonist of my novel Pattern Earth.
We drove home. I ate, watched new Doctor Who episodes (I love Missy), ate again, and slept. After a lazy day recouping on Monday, I took the train to Montreal to give my Tuesday morning lecture on the game of Zombies versus Survivors played on graphs at the GRASTA conference. By the time I post this Wednesday morning, I am still a little sore, but every new day I feel better. Maybe I will go for a light run tonight.
Congratulations to everyone who ran #STWM. Never give up on your dreams.